You played at a Table Game flat betting; you eventually realized you were on the losing end, overall.
You played at a Table Game basically randomizing your betting; you eventually realized that you were on the losing end, overall.
You played at a Table Game betting with a general pattern, often negative progression in nature, though not any formal structure; you eventually realized that you were on the losing end, overall.
They say that the definition of insanity is to try the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Of course, you’re not an insane person, so you tried different things, yet, the results were substantially the same.
Of course, you didn’t actually do anything differently; you played a negative expectation game long enough and lost, in all cases.
The only thing that a betting system really does is change the distribution of the near-inevitability of long-term losing.
Do you want to occasionally score a huge win that intersperses almost constant small losses for a, “Session,” whatever that means to you? Try a positive progression betting system.
Do you want to score frequent small wins and winning sessions at the risk of the occasional massacre and massive loss? Negative progression systems might be the way for you to go.
Do you want to buy in for a reasonable amount of money and play for a long time without worrying about going too far in any direction within a relatively short period? Flat bet.
Just One More Drink
“Every day is New Year’s Eve; Every night is the last night. Every day is New Year’s Eve; Every time is the last time.”---”Amateur,” Nada Surf, The Proximity Effect, 1998, MarDev Records
Gambling systems are the equivalent of an alcoholic trying to find a way to, “Control,” his drinking. I’m not suggesting that every person to ever play a gambling system is a gambling addict, just like every person to try to engage in, “Controlled drinking,” is not an alcoholic.
The main problem is that the notion of, “Just one more drink,” is not an actual goal unto itself, at least, not a meaningful goal. Why do you need to have one more drink? What benefit is there in having one more drink as opposed to two more drinks, or zero more drinks? Why is exactly one last drink the solution to the problem?
When getting into these, “One more drink,” situations, it’s probably important to ask if this one more drink is actually solving anything. In fact, is drinking at all really a, “Solution,” to something. If you’re drinking, then you should be doing it because it’s a way of relaxing, not because you need to drink to relax. That’s the difference between an alcoholic and a person who is merely drinking.
Similarly, what is it that a gambling system is, solving?
The way I see it, a person could see a gambling system as a solution for the following problems:
1.) That they are losing at gambling, but would prefer to win.
Okay, if you’re losing at gambling and would prefer to win, there are well-documented and repeatable ways to actually win at gambling.
One and all, these involve playing with some sort of overall advantage in the first place. If you would prefer to win at gambling, then the best place to start would be to only play when you at least perceive yourself as having some sort of an advantage in the game. With enough study, this can be done by pretty much anyone who is observant, though being strong in logic/math will also help with that.
However, and importantly, simply employing a system is not going to help you win at gambling. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but it would have been figured out by now. Casinos would no longer be offering the game, or would take countermeasures to make the means by which the winning is being done more difficult.
There is simply no way to add a series of negative numbers to one another such that the result will be a positive number. To deny this would be to deny reality, much like so many alcoholics deny that they are alcoholics.
If a betting system was sufficient to beat a game, then it would have been discovered, exploited and the applicable bet or game would no longer be offered in casinos. We have seen this with countermeasures taken against mathematically viable methods of expected profit, such as card counting, edge sorting and hole-carding. Casinos have determined that these mechanisms are actual threats and have taken action to prevent them, or make them more difficult.
Casinos DO NOT have Table Minimums and Table Maximums because they are scared of the Martingale. They have these things simply because they want to limit their overall exposure. Do you really think a casino that only has a Minimum-Maximum spread of $10-$100,000 across all games would take ten million dollar bets if only the person promises to flat bet? Of course not! At least, not always. The Table Maximum on a particular game, generally speaking, reflects the most that the casino is comfortable losing on a given hand, which by extension, reflects the maximum that they are comfortable possibly losing within a finite amount of time.
Betting systems are easy. They just are. Anyone can come up with one. Winning at gambling is NOT always hard, but it’s certainly not usually easy. If betting systems could be expected to conquer the House Edge, that would make winning at gambling always easy and always repeatable. Most legitimate forms of winning at gambling usually involve a certain condition, or set of conditions, to be met...so they can’t be willed into existence. Sure, you can attempt to count cards anytime you want, but you can’t will a positive count into existence on any given shoe.
Betting system believers simply want to will the nature of negative expectation gambling to be something else by virtue of the fact that they believe it should be a different way. As long as Table Games are open and you have money, then you can go to a table, exchange cash for chips, and make a bet. If betting systems had a long-term expectation of profit, then you wouldn’t be able to just do that anytime you want.
Hole-carders need a dealer who is flashing a hole card. Variable-State slot advantage players need a slot to satisfy one (or more) conditions that is not typically the case for that slot machine, because if it were, the slot machine would be losing money. Edge-sorters need a non-symmetrical deck of cards to be in play. The point is, you can’t just walk into a casino and win anytime you want to because you will it to be so.
People who wish to employ betting systems (absent anything else) don’t truly believe that the mere act of betting a certain way is going to result in an expectation of profit. They can’t possibly believe such a thing, because such a catastrophic failure of basic logic should be impossible.
Why is it that betting systems don’t work? Because the games exist. If Betting Systems did work, then the games would no longer exist, or even if they did, it would mean that they have a positive player expectation in the first place and would soon not exist.
Why don’t winning player naturals on the Blackjack Table pay 5:1 as opposed to 3:2 or 6:5? The answer is because the result of that (and other rules staying the same) would result in a massive player advantage. A reasonably well-bankrolled player would make huge profits, overall, and would be highly probable to win an individual session of any meaningful length provided they run something near expected on frequency of winning naturals.
Players could simply print money in this scenario. And, again, the casinos would not offer this because (assuming the player doesn’t play the worst strategy ever seen) players could just sit down and be expected to profit by virtue of just playing the game. No system or anything else needed.
People who employ betting systems DO NOT WANT TO WIN. It’s that simple. THEY WANT TO PLAY. That’s all they want to do. They want to gamble. They want to pretend that they believe that the system makes an actual difference in the expectation.
They cling tenaciously to this supposed belief because, if they accepted that this supposed belief is absolutely incorrect, then they could no longer justify the gambling to themselves. That said, they could find legitimate ways to win...but their goal is not to win; it never was, their goal was to be at the table playing a negative expectation game.
If you’re a system player reading this, then you don’t have to accept this just yet. Acceptance is the last step, after all.
Also, you should take all of this one step at a time. By arguing with people about it, you’re just engaging in denial, anger and bargaining simultaneously.
Also, don’t fret, Acceptance is both the last step and the hardest.
The Alcoholic on ‘Controlling’ Addiction
The alcoholic does not want to stop drinking. The alcoholic will say and do things that defy logic in a vain effort (from the perspective of others) to try to justify the drinking.
The alcoholic may come up with a system. The alcoholic may look at the clock and try to only drink a particular number of shots within a certain timeframe and continue to repeat that until the end of the night.
Much like a negative progression betting system, there’s a high probability of success on an individual trial! In fact, the alcoholic may succeed on many successive trials and believe that the expectation has become that he can control his drinking. He cannot. Much like the negative expectation player eventually hits a, “Bad streak,” and gets massacred, the alcoholic hits the equivalent.
2.) That they are, “About even,” lifetime, but want to win.
Ouch! That’s not ideal, because this person hasn’t even gotten past the denial stage yet.
And, hold on...if you’re actually, “About even,” for life, then why are you thinking about using a betting system in the first place!? Isn’t what you are doing working well enough? You have been gambling this long and you truly believe that you’re not on the losing side of things by now? My word, you’re well to the right of the third standard deviation---why change?
The truth is: If you’re in this category, then you probably have no idea what your actual results are. “Oh, I’ve been going to the casino about two or three times a week for the last five years, playing Craps for 2-3 hours each time...and I’m about even.”
Wait a minute! Hold on. You don’t even know how many days of the week, on average, you have been going to the casino, or how long you have been spending, on average, each time...and I’m supposed to take your non-existent financial accounting at face value?
I’ve got good news and bad news for you; we’ll start with the bad news:
The bad news is that you probably have no idea what your financial results are, but they are probably negative---which means that not only are you probably in denial, but also that you don’t even know what it is that you are specifically denying.
The good news is that, if you decide to try out betting systems and use them for long enough, that you will be down sooner or later, almost inevitably and then you WILL know exactly what it is that you’re denying.
Going back to #1, if you really wanted to win, then you wouldn’t even be contemplating betting systems. The first thing that you are doing is denying the fact that you have most likely been on the losing end in the first place. The second thing that you are doing is trying to create a set of conditions by which you can (pretend to) be expected to win, in order to justify the gambling that you wish to continue to do.
If you have to justify your actions to yourself, of all people, then there’s a fair chance that you’re doing an action that you shouldn’t.
Denial and the Alcoholic
The hardest stage of anything is acceptance, which is followed by moving forward. The second hardest stage is probably to get past denial, because in order to do so, you must at least partially accept that the problem is, in fact, a problem.
I’m not a huge fan of the Alcoholics Anonymous program because it’s all but predicated upon religious belief, but that said, they have a good first step: Admitting you are an alcoholic.
The gambler who denies that he has experienced a loss to this point, or at a minimum, played with an expectation of losing (that no gambling system will ever change in and of itself) is essentially the alcoholic who has yet to admit that he is an alcoholic.
Someone who can drink in a healthy way doesn’t have anything to self-justify. He can simply say, “I drink sometimes, and that’s fine.” The healthy recreational gambler, similarly, does not have any self-justification to do. He can simply say, “I gamble sometimes. I am expected to lose when I do. I do lose sometimes, and that’s fine.”
Do you deny that casinos exist?
If you deny the existence of casinos, then you certainly are a strange sort of gambler. Casinos operate games based on the concept of House Edge. House Edge relies upon the concept that, if a player plays long enough, then he or she will eventually lose. To deny the immutability of the House Edge (absent some mathematically valid reason to do so---which means that the actual house edge, or overall proposition, has itself changed) is to deny that casinos exist.
Casinos do exist. Therefore, the House Edge exists. If it didn’t, then they wouldn’t.
THE CYCLE OF ACCEPTANCE
Remember, the cycle of acceptance starts with being a normal person. Everyone to ever walk into a casino at all did so for the first time, at some point, and was--for lack of a better term, “A normal gambler.” Normalcy is the first stage in the Cycle of Acceptance.
In other words, at some point, you had accepted the reality of the House Edge. You walked into a casino already understanding the fundamental fact that, were it not making money off of the players playing the games, then it would not be there in the first place.
You were, “Capable of objective, valid reasoning”
There was no doubt in your mind that the casinos are expected to win and you are expected to lose in most games and most situations. In fact, this being your first ever casino visit, you probably weren’t even aware that there are occasionally situations where a player could actually be expected to profit. You just figured that you might have, “Good luck,” that day.
“Normal existence,” is the default. Believing that Betting Systems will work is not, “Normal existence.” If you are not in normal existence, then you are in one of the stages that is neither, “Normal Existence,” nor, “Acceptance.”
The ‘Normal’ Drinker
Everyone to ever take a drink of an alcoholic beverage did so for the first time, at some point, and was--for lack of a better term, “A normal drinker.”
This person probably understood that there are alcoholics in the world, and may have even read a little bit of material about alcoholism, but was definitely not themselves an alcoholic as they had never consumed alcohol before. Of course, they knew that consuming enough alcohol could create a chemical dependency because the entire purpose of alcohol is to alter the body’s chemistry in a satisfying (temporarily) way.
It’s doubtful that anyone takes his first drink with the intent of eventually becoming an alcoholic. Much like, “Betting systems,” are customized to give the illusion of, “Controlled and goal-oriented gambling,” which is what they are actually about, the alcoholic eventually doubts that he is an alcoholic, denies it and designs all sorts of self-experiments with the goal that he can prove, to himself (and sometimes others) that he can control his drinking.
We have already touched on denial, for both the alcoholic and the Betting Systems advocate.
Essentially, the gambling systems advocate must deny one of two things:
A.) That the House Edge exists.
B.) That the House Edge is immutable in the long-term.
Most gambling systems advocates aren’t going to go for Option A, because that is the hardest one to defend. The casinos continue to offer the games because they are garnering positive revenues on the tables, or machines. That is the only argument needed to defeat the notion that there is a House Edge that exists.
Even with that failing, we turn to simple math...particularly with certain Table Games.
It’s actually kind of funny that games such as Roulette and Craps would be popular for Betting Systems. The reason that it’s funny is because there is absolutely no set of conditions that would even result in the House Edge itself being variable, assuming the game is being handled properly and with equipment that has integrity. At least, with card games, a betting systems advocate could point to the probabilities being variable based on known cards.
Okay, give me a bet. Okay, this is the probability that you will win, and how much, if you do win; here is the probability that you will lose (or push), and how much, if you do lose. Multiply this by this, that by that, subtract this by that and here is your negative number.
That leaves Option B, at least, for anyone who wants to even pretend that they are being objective. In the best case, they won’t deny the immutability of the House Edge for, “Most Players,” but they are NOT most players. They are special. They have a special way of betting that changes whether or not the House Edge actually matters.
Often, they will have a two-fold argument:
A.) That the House Edge does not have a, “Real,” effect on anyone in the short-term. After all, you cannot bet $10.00 on the Pass Line and lose 14.1 cents. You can only win $10 or lose $10.
B.) That certain negative progression systems, such as the Martingale, could not be defeated if a player had an infinite bankroll and the casino did not have Table Limits.
Remember, this IS their best argument.
First of all, the argument itself is internally inconsistent, because they first point to the nature of the short-term v. the long-term and ask, “Well, at what specific point does the house edge become absolute in terms of a player’s REAL results?”
Obviously, it’s an unanswerable question for a specific player. If it could be specifically answered such that it was always true and is true for everyone, then we would no longer be discussing gambling. The very nature of what it means to gamble is to not know what the result will be ahead of time.
What we can know is that there is a point, given a particular set of initial conditions, by which we can point to even the variance (the entire nature of gambling) not even being sufficient such that any of the players, given that initial state, are even or ahead.
Of course, that gets decried as, “Not real,” or, “Not what happens in the real world!”
Okay, Mr. Real World, so why are you talking about casinos with absolutely no table maximums and players with infinite bankrolls? Do you want to deal in real world terms, or don’t you?
Here’s the thing: Probability is a real world term.
Read that again: Probability is a real world term.
Again and again and again until you finally get it.
The very nature of existence is such that probability applies, in the real world, as does variance.
It’s not true only in casinos, it’s true everywhere.
Here is a random story of someone getting hit by a car.
I picked one where she lived. This article is depressing enough.
Okay, so that proves that more than zero people have been hit by cars. However, most people do not get hit by cars, at least, not most of the time.
If a person thought that getting hit by a car when crossing the street was more likely than not, then they would need a VERY GOOD reason to ever cross a street, wouldn’t they?
I don’t think anyone has ever done an exhaustive study as to the specific probability of a random person being hit by a car at all possible times, but we know that the probability of such an event generally falls somewhere between 0% and 100% if a person is near a street.
If the probability of getting hit by a car was 100%, then nobody would ever cross a street unless the intent was to get injured or commit suicide. If the probability of getting hit by a car was 0%, then our parents would never have taught us to, “Look both ways.”
Whether or not the terms are strictly quantifiable to us, the concept of probability pervades the better part of our day-to-day existence. Some might argue that the concept is totally inseparable from existence.
House Edge is a function of probability. The argument that the House Edge does not apply in the short-term is hilarious, because the House Edge not only exists because probability exists; it exists because the casinos embrace and rely upon long-term probability.
The same probability that Betting Systems advocates would deny.
Who do I think has a better grasp of probability?
Option A: Every casino, game developer, analyst and gambling mathematician to ever exist in the entire world---combined.
Option B: Some random guy who believes he has found the code to crack the safe of negative expectation games by subtracting negative numbers from other negative numbers, but in a certain way, by which the result will be a positive number.
I’m going to go with Option A.
Hell, even if the ridiculous Betting System proponents’ positions had any intellectual merit, which they don’t, they rely on an argument relies either upon the shortest of short-runs or the concept of, “Infinity,” which is a long-run so long that it can’t, by definition, exist in the, “Real World.”
Think of the gambling, “Long-Term,” as existing somewhere in the middle---that area in which almost all gamblers do their playing.
Would you classify the system advocate as being in, “Denial?” I’d almost want to call it, “Deliberate stupidity,” as opposed to denial, but I’d hate to offend anyone.
The Alcoholic and Denial
It may seem that only the alcoholic is denying a binary proposition, after all, one is either an alcoholic or one is not, but the betting system advocate also denies a binary proposition.
Proposition: The House Edge exists and, for most players, it will eventually matter in actual results. It always matters in terms of theoretical results, of course.
What sort of denial would the alcoholic have to be engaged in to deny it to the extent that a betting systems advocate denies reality? It would be the equivalent of taking a long pull straight from a handle of Southern Comfort in full view of an entire crowd of people and, immediately after, declaring, “I have never taken a drink in my entire life.”
***I skipped over, “Receipt of Bad News,” because the gambling systems advocate was already well aware of the, “Bad News,” (the House Edge) or at least had a notion of it, before gambling in the first place.
Can You Imagine?
Speaking of the middle earlier, betting systems advocates find themselves in a strange sort of middle.
I took an informal poll of twenty people who have never entered a casino in their lives and asked, “If you did go to a casino and play a game, who would have the advantage; you, or the casino?”
All twenty of them answered that the casino would have an advantage! Can you imagine? Gambling mathematicians would answer the same way. What insight these non-gamblers have!
Many of these betting systems advocates have spent more time gambling or studying gambling than people who have never entered a casino, but less than people who are gambling experts of one sort or another...yet, they somehow know less about gambling than either group!
Just because you know where to put your chips in order to make the desired bet doesn’t mean that you understand gambling. It just means you understand the physical mechanics of how to gamble. By the same standard, a pre-schooler who puts the square into the square-shaped hole knows how to gamble.
3.) Anger!!!! ROAR!!!!
I don’t want to get too personal in this section, but if you do have anger, who are you angry at?
If you’ve lost money gambling prior to embracing betting systems, then you shouldn’t be angry at the casinos. Did they put a gun to your head and force you to go in there? Have you been kidnapped to a casino? Do you need help?
If you’re angry at yourself for losing, then don’t be. Players are supposed to lose in casinos, at least in the long-run...it’s kind of important to the business model.
I could maybe understand if you’ve lost a lot and are angry at yourself, but betting systems aren’t going to do anything to solve that problem. You can either take the L and not do it again, or if you’re really determined, find the methods of gambling that might yield a legitimate advantage.
If you’ve lost more money than you planned, what’s done is done, no changing the past. Of course, that gets us to acceptance, so maybe we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.
I know that some Betting Systems advocates get angry when they post!!! They don’t like us math bullies with our negative talk and complicated equations. They’ll do anything to try to prove us wrong, or at least, to try to argue that we can’t absolutely prove our case.
Let’s do a comparison:
1.) Betting Systems Advocate---Trying to convince himself and people who know better of something that absolutely does not work and does not change a player’s expectation in casinos.
Has often lost in casinos before, sometimes disastrously, and supposedly wants to find a way to win that doesn’t actually involve finding a way to win. Or doing any real work, for that matter.
Gets angry and often makes grandiose and sweeping statements of why math bullies are not dealing in facts, or the, “Real World,” even though probability, is in fact, something that exists and governs the outcome of many of our day-to-day affairs. All the while, wholly incapable of presenting a logically or mathematically valid counterposition because no such thing exists.
2.) Math Bully Mission---Just pleased as punch to recognize negative expectation games for what they are, and generally, not to play them. Happy to see all negative expectation bets as not being optimal, due to their very nature of being negative expectation, as well as to know the precise expected loss of whatever negative expectation bets he might make.
Within reason, happy to provide formulas and statements of a logically and mathematically valid nature to demonstrate, as conclusively as most people could, that the expectation is for the player to lose.
Cheerfully accepts reality for what it is and, if he does play, does not deny the reality that he would eventually lose if he played a particular game long enough.
Getting so angry that one denies reality? As Tony Stark might say, “Not a great plan.”
What do some of these people do? They come to a Forum, such as WoV, with known math-heavy participants and proceed to make futile efforts to argue in favor of a futile proposition. They get angry when they are presented with well-reasoned and backed mathematical facts. Frustrated because, once again, a negative number subtracted from a negative number has been proven to result in a negative number.
It’s like staging your own intervention, every day of your life, and walking into it as if to battle. Unfortunately for them, there are no swords involved (they might win, then) only wits and logical propositions---and they have picked the side of the argument that can only lose.
In addition to willingly walking into it, another difference between this and an alcoholic’s intervention is that some of the people involved in this intervention aren’t going to care about your feelings all that much, so won’t necessarily be inclined to approach the discussion wearing, “Kid gloves.”
Well, sorry. Facts are cold, and sometimes, so am I.
The Alcoholic and Anger
The alcoholic experiences something similar, but the interesting thing about alcoholism is that it can sometimes be difficult to absolutely prove that a certain person is an alcoholic. When accused, the alcoholic can usually at least present a better rationalization than can the betting systems advocate because there’s no -.141 + -.141 = -.282 equivalent statement that can be presented to immediately prove the accuser’s case.
The alcoholic desperately wants not to be an alcoholic, because that means that he can keep drinking. The betting systems advocate desperately wants to be right, because then he can not only gamble forever without consequence; he can actually be rewarded for doing so.
Either way, both are sometimes angry.
The more tenaciously a belief is held, despite all evidence to that belief’s contrary, the harder the belief is to let go. The betting systems advocate does not want to believe that it will, almost inevitably, be losing given enough time...and the alcoholic simply wants to believe that he is not an alcoholic. Hey, I get it...I hate being wrong about something as a matter of principle.
The good news for the Betting Systems Advocate, though not so much for the alcoholic, is that they actually have the option of maybe skipping this step!
In order to be able to jump right over depression, all you have to do is decide not to try your system out in casinos...not lose a ton of money...and skip right to bargaining.
Here’s a bargain: You seem to think, “Play for fun,” games aren’t the, “Real World,” but bargain with yourself such that you pretend that they are. Either that, or bargain that you will accept the results of simulations, or use a random number generator and set the initial boundary conditions such that they essentially mimic a game.
If you do any of these things, which involve either zero (or relatively little) actual money, then you will see that the betting system does not work. It will eventually fail every single time.
Fortunately, all that ended up happening is that your belief was proven wrong by more than someone arguing with you and throwing equations at you. That’s much better than your belief being proven absolutely wrong AND losing a bunch of money in the process.
With that, depression CAN be avoided almost completely. The only exception would be if the mere act of being wrong spins you into a mild depression, but that’s not going to be nearly as deep of a depression as being wrong AND losing a ton of money.
“A miracle is not going to happen.”
For your betting system to work over a statistically meaningful period of time, it wouldn’t exactly qualify as a miracle, but you’d have to be so far to the right of the bell curve that you might as well just go ahead and call it one. Why not? You’ve already demonstrated that you’re not overly concerned with formal math terms anyway.
Even gambling can be a bargain, as long as you didn’t already have a problem with gambling to begin with. You can say, “I am going to gamble using my system, even though I understand that my system is probably going to result in my losing...because the mere act of gambling at a negative expectation game already does that, sooner or later.”
There’s nothing wrong with playing using a system if that makes negative expectation gambling more fun for you. It’s supposed to be fun anyway. There’s nothing wrong with playing Slots instead of Craps (in and of itself) if you think slots are fun and Craps is boring. If you play a negative expectation game, then you will lose in the long run---system or otherwise. It only becomes harmful if you are ignoring other aspects of life or losing amounts that you can’t afford to lose.
Using a betting system does not automatically make either of those two things more likely, in my opinion. On the other hand, believing in a betting system might.
With this bargaining you may find:
If you are playing a negative expectation game, then you are expected to lose money to the casino with every single play. If you play the game for long enough, then this expectation, to some degree, becomes a near inevitability.
With that, you will be back to understanding what you knew to be true before you ever walked into a casino for the first time.